"You are Brave!"

Shiona's Birth Story, by Emma Frayne

Emma wrote:

My home birth was planned, and it was the most wonderful experience. I did have high expectations after having had 2 births in hospital that were not as I would have liked them to be - one induced for no apparent reason than their convenience and the second was speeded up with a drip and rupture of membranes because I wasn't progressing as they would have liked. I was only in hospital because my waters had leaked - the hind waters - and so the clock was ticking.......... that aside I had two beautiful babies and very little tearing and only gas and air....... so not all bad !!

I would be delighted for you to include any or all of my story if it would encourage others to have confidence in their own body and in their midwives.

In the middle of June last year, I discovered that my life was about to change. After a gap of 8 ½ years, we were going to have another baby. It took quite a few days to get used to the idea - what a huge shock and yet a lovely surprise. I can't pretend for one minute that having a baby was something we had planned and my deepest worry was how our other 2 daughters (aged 8 and 10) would react. Their family was about to be invaded by a stranger, but I needn't to have worried as the only tears that they shed when we told them were those of absolute joy and excitement. They just couldn't wait to tell their friends and so the pregnancy did not stay a secret for long. Soon everyone was asking, "How are you feeling?" (sick and exhausted) and "Where are you going to have the baby?" My reply was "at home" and almost without exception the response was " Really! You ARE brave!"

 I didn't feel brave. I really did not want to give birth in hospital. I had a good idea of what I could expect my labour to be like, I thought I could cope, and so the best place for me to give birth was where I knew I would relax, and for me that was within my own four walls. I also knew I had the FULL support of my husband.

The midwives at Lymington Maternity Unit were very supportive of my choice. As the weeks went on I was told the arrangements for the "on Call" rota and at 36 weeks my midwife brought round the birthing pack ready for when I went into labour. The only thing we were asked to provide was a large plastic sheet!

My due date of the 18th February came and went and as each day went by after that I knew that my chances of having this baby at home were getting slimmer. There would come a time when I would have to go in to hospital to be induced and that really was the last thing I wanted. I was having days when I would have regular very mild contractions and then everything would stop - it was like being teased - maybe this time things would progress and I would at long last see my baby.

Note from Angela:
Although you may be told that you will "have" to go to hospital to be induced when you reach a certain date, in fact it is always your decision. It is important to remember that induction is a treatment which can be offered to you - it is not compulsory. Some women choose to accept the offer of induction when they feel the time is right, while others decide to wait for labour to start naturally, or request monitoring to check on the baby's condition before making a decision. Read 'Overdue - but still want a home birth?' for more information.

One the night of the 1st March I started having the same regular contractions but this time they began to get a bit stronger. However, by dawn they had stopped again, and so I got up and got the children off to school.

My last antenatal appointment was when I was 12 days over and the midwife had explained that they would try and get things going for me if nothing had happened by then. I was having mild irregular contractions when my midwife did a stretch and sweep (sweeping the membranes - a simple technique which increases the chances you will go into labour soon, and which is supposed to be carried out before induction is considered - see the page on Overdue... for more information).

She managed to get me from about 1cm to about 3 cm and I was strapped to the monitor for ½ hour before going home. Both the midwife and I were hopeful that things would now continue to progress - and they did. The contractions continued to get stronger and more regular from then on - babe arrived 6 hours later at home.

By 4 o'clock I was sure that my labour had started but I was able to potter about and had some tea and talked to the girls about their day at school. Soon Simon was home from work and timing the contractions and beginning to ask questions like " Shall we call the midwife now?!". To keep him happy, I called the midwife at 6pm and she was here by 6.15pm. To my delight the midwife on call was the same one I had seen that afternoon and she knew me and the rest of the my family quite well. We chatted between contractions (about 4 mins apart) as I walked around and she rubbed my back during the pain and kept everything calm and relaxed. I spent this time standing up and leaning over the back of a chair during my contractions, as that was the only position in which I felt comfortable.

 At around 7.15pm we decided to call my mother, who was going to come over and look after the girls so that Simon could stay with me for the birth and not have to worry about them. We let her know that she would be needed, but not to rush. At 7.30pm I was about 5cm dilated. I remember my midwife saying that we should have this baby out by midnight. 15 minutes later and the contractions were very much stronger and almost continuous - "this baby had better arrive by midnight! " I thought, as there was no time to recover from one contraction before the next one started - time for some gas and air!! During this time, Simon kept popping downstairs to let the girls know that everything was fine and baby would be born soon.

Just 30 minutes later I was ready to push. My waters still hadn't broken at this stage and they stayed intact as I started to push. The midwife decided to break them and minutes later our baby was born. I could hardly believe it was all over so quickly - it was just 8.15pm. Baby was lifted onto my tummy while Simon went to tell the girls they had a new sister. Within in a minute of our baby being born, we were all together as a family again with lots of hugs and tears.

Those moments after the birth were so precious and being at home I felt that I could relax with my husband and children and enjoy that very special time. I had chosen to have a natural third stage and so Simon was asked if he would like to cut the cord once it had stopped pulsating. I was then able to a have a bath in my own bath and got into my own bed and fed my baby while the midwives cleared everything up! A wonderful experience.

Emma Frayne

full time mum,
applying to do midwifery training in 2003,
wife to simon,
and mother to sarah 12/06/90, amie 28/07/92 and shiona 02/03/01


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